That iPad Battery Indicator Thing is Weird

Most of the controversies about the new iPad (HeatGate, Battery Life, etc…) seem to have become stale news now that days have passed and users are experiencing the device for themselves. Please understand that I’m not trying to re-kindle things with this post about the battery indicator. I’m still really pleased with the battery life on the new iPad and don’t expect that to change. Apple set a high bar with the first iPad and continues that today, thankfully. I’m just reporting some interesting things I’ve discovered in my usage.

I’ve read all the reports about battery life and charging the iPad. Without setting out to test anything, over the weekend I noticed some interesting behavior around the iPad’s battery life indicator. Now, I have no idea if this has to do with real battery life, or with the indicator.

Those who’ve followed the battery life/charging stories should know a couple of things.

  • It takes longer to charge the battery on the new iPad. That should be common sense as it is a bigger battery than in previous models.
  • If you leave your iPad plugged in after reaching a 100% charge (on the indicator) it will keep charging. Apple says this is a feature and perfectly OK. In fact, many devices do this kind of thing as they near a full charge.

So, this weekend I had some more time to spend at home in the mornings than I usually do. For me this meant that in addition to some chores, I could spend some more time with the iPad doing some reading. Now, as context, I use my iPad and the Apps Flipboard and Zite as my morning paper on most days. Typically, when I do this on the new iPad I would start with a freshly charged battery and see the indicator read anywhere from 89% to 93% by the end of a morning read session. That’s about what I would see on the iPad 2 as well.

As I spent more time on the iPad both mornings this weekend I had driven the battery charge down a bit further in longer usage (around 72%).¬† So, without really thinking about it, I hooked the iPad back up to the charger as I did some more chores and got ready to leave for for the day and evening’s work at the theatre. Might as well have a full charge when I get to work.

When I popped open the Smart Cover once arriving at work, I did indeed have a full charge. What I discovered on Saturday and Sunday, is that after this last little top-up of the battery, the battert life indicator would drop much more slowly than it would once it was unplugged after a full night’s charge.

Now firmly in curious and testing mode, I did a similar thing on Monday and Tuesday (today) morning. I didn’t change my “morning paper” routine. Before packing up to leave from the house I had drained the battery to 92% both Monday and Tuesday. Once arriving at the office, I plugged in the iPad and went about my work. Unplugging it before lunch time the indicator showed a 100% charge. During lunch both days I did a similar but heavier reading and surfing routine that is akin to my “morning paper” ritual, viewed about 15 minutes of video each day, answered a few emails, and largely used the device as I normally would for about 40 to 45 minutes.

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After each lunch session as described above the battery indicator dropped to only 98%. And the rate that things continue to drop during the day seems slower after one of these “top-ups” than it does with just a nightly charge.

Like I said, I’m not sure if what I’m seeing has to do with the battery indicator or the actual battery life. In my situation it really doesn’t matter. I still get more than a full day’s battery life on the new iPad, regardless of whether I top off the battery in the morning or go forth with just a full night’s charge. But I thought I’d share my experiences to see if anyone else is seeing things the same or differently.

Comments

  1. Brettg says

    Interesting article Warner. However, I don’t understand why it is common sense that a bigger 40 watt hour battery should take longer to charge. I’ve seen so many of the Apple apologist on forums head slapping about it, “well of course it takes longer to charge. Duh! The battery is bigger and Apple is perfect you ungrateful fools!”

    My Motion F5v with 40 watt hour battery takes 90 minutes to charge. My Samsung Series 7 Slate takes 2:10 to charge, again with a 40 watt hour battery.

    I’ve heard that the new new new iPad takes 5 hours to charge!

    Apple could have designed and bundled a better, faster¬†charger… but they didn’t.

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